Just ask my kids and they will tell you that I LOVE taking pictures. No… it’s more than that, they’ll say, I have an almost insatiable urge to take pictures at anytime and just about anywhere. It started when my Dad gave me this little polaroid camera when I was in grade nine. It was one that you had to drop in the Kodak film and then rolled the film along manually so that the film would “catch” signifying that the camera was now loaded and ready for me to take pictures. Okay, I don’t know if that’s the technical way of saying it, but basically that’s what you had to do. Then everytime you snapped a picture you had to manually roll the film ahead so you could take the next picture.
I was probably one of the first people to get one of those “instant” cameras…the ones that took a picture and then like a kind of dispensing machine the picture was spit out and then you waited for 5 minutes until the image mysteriously started to develop. Yeah, not so “instant”.
I then progressed to a Pentax camera with a zoom lense! Whoo hoo! I thought technology could just not get any better than that. My husband joked that we should have taken out stock options with Kodak for all the rolls upon rolls of film I was developing every few weeks. The problem was though, that the camera had all these settings and nuances that I never really made use of. I relied solely on my natural ability to take awesome pictures.
My next camera was an Olympus. Point and click, point and click! It was foolproof. Automatic zoom, automatic loading of film, automatic focus! But quickly that camera went the way of the dinosaurs and the digital age arrived and I thought I had gone to amateur photographer’s heaven when I got my new digital Olympus! I could snap countless numbers of pictures and look at them immediately! If I didn’t like a picture, I could delete it! I could experiment, I could change settings, I could add captions or change from colour to black and white! But it got better…now I could even edit my pictures using my computer. If my picture didn’t live up to my expectations…into the recycle bin it went. (That’s photographer’s talk for…I deleted it!)
Soon my children were cringing at every birthday party, sporting event, family gathering, family outing, school dances…etc. etc. because there I was snapping away with wild abandon capturing their images whenever I had the chance. They started to hide from me or worse…ruin the picture by sticking their tongue out whenever I forced them to pose for me. They couldn’t escape…I told them I’d keep snapping until I got one I liked. I started to digitally scrapbook my pictures. My computer overflowed from photo files. It became my obsession.
There was only one catch to this magnificent obsession…in order for me to snap a perfect picture, it had to be ME behind the camera. You see I TAKE the pictures…I avoid having MY picture taken!
So as I was going through my kabillions of photo files I gasped at the truly horrific pictures that had been taken of me through the ages. I knew there was a reason why I was the photographer and never the photographed. I had almost forgiven a friend for snapping the most awful “stills” of me at VBS and SYC until I ran across them again in one of those “throw-back Thursday” files. Ahhhhh! Then of course there were all those silly snapshots of me at church or family events when I dressed up in a costume for one reason or another. Oh, and I couldn’t forget all those candid shots where I was caught eating food and someone snapped a picture of me in mid-chew. I will admit I even laughed out loud when I saw a photo taken during VBS many years ago when a preschooler stuck stickers all over my face “to make me look special” he said in his sweet four year old voice. I looked “special” all right!
It seemed every picture taken of me I discarded as inappropriate for some reason: “this picture makes me look: fat, old, stupid, dazed, confused, silly, tired, on drugs, silly, ridiculous, mad, sad, dumb, ….” I realized that while I had taken some glorious pictures of my husband, children and friends, there were virtually no acceptable pictures of ME! That is why I nearly jumped for joy when I came across a picture of me buried under the debris of what can only be described as photographic carnage to that point. I use this picture of me quite often as the photo of choice for profile pictures, thumbnails etc. in the social media world. I daresay I haven’t found a recent picture of me that I like better than this one (even though it’s now considered an “old” picture.)
My husband had surprised me by announcing as soon as the children were headed off to school, that he was taking me to the mountains for lunch! A beautiful fall day in 2009, just prior to Thanksgiving, the Kananaskis beckoned us to experience the full beauty of the colours of the season. I couldn’t wait to grab my camera and go!
We had a wonderful lunch together at the Kananaskis Lodge and then we went for a long, leisurely walk along the pathway that overlooked the river and the golf course. I had probably snapped my fiftieth picture when Charles grabbed my camera and said, “Let me take a picture of you.”
I was worried. This was not the first time he had tried to take my picture. He always said, “You really look good!” and he would show me the photographic “nightmare” and smile so proudly of his photographic “genius” that I didn’t have the heart to tell him that the picture made me look: fat, old, stupid, dazed, confused, silly, tired, on drugs, silly, ridiculous, mad, sad, dumb, ….. When he wasn’t looking I would quickly “recycle” the picture.
So with great trepidation I posed for him and he quickly snapped the picture and then said, “This one is not bad of you at all!”
I think he was as surprised as I was.